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Freezing Complete Series Limited Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

When faced with extradimensional aliens, it’s of course up to overpowered sexy kids to save the day.

What They Say:
Eager to follow in the footsteps of his fallen sister, Kazuya enrolls at West Genetics Academy, a training facility for buxom heroes known as Pandoras. These courageous schoolgirls are genetically enhanced with enough sex appeal to cripple a man – and the superhuman strength to slaughter aliens by the dozen. Kazuya’s role is that of Limiter, a Pandora’s battle partner, and he quickly sets his sights on the most feared beauty in school, Satellizer el Brigette.

This full-figured annihilator of aliens is as desirable as she is deadly, but rubbing her the wrong way could lead to gross bodily harm. Can Kazuya forge a bond with his new partner and rise to the top of the ranks at West Genetics? Or will he fall victim to the mysterious bloodlust lurking within Satellizer?

Contains episodes 1-12 and OVAs 1-6.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is standard and solid fare from FUNimation in that we get the original Japanese in stereo and the English in 5.1 using the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The show has a very good deal of action in it overall and it works these scenes well in both mixes, but there’s definitely a larger and louder feel coming from the English mix. It just comes across as more dynamic and intense with more bass overall. The Japanese track is quite solid and appealing though as it brings the action home well while conveying the dialogue, be it the intense stern side or the meek side of some of the characters, along with everything in between. Both do the job well and it just comes down to what you want out of a performance. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in winter 2011, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in native HD 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second along with the extras. Having watched the censored version of the simulcast when it aired, this transfer is like a revelation. Whereas I found that one murky and almost too oppressive with its dark colors and atmosphere, here it feels like a completely different show. Colors are brighter while still retaining the dark side that’s in many of the scenes that focus on the action at night and at sunset. The show has a much more appealing animation design here as details are cleaner, colors look really strong and the animation’s fluidity shines through in a new way. While I liked the vibrancy it had at times before, it’s more balanced here and the end results is a far more appealing show than I thought it would be.

Packaging:
The packaging for this limited edition release is quite good in some ways but a bit painful in others. The good is that we get a heavy chipboard box with some solid framing to it with the darker reds that gives it the feeling of a bit of weight. I also rather like the logo that’s used and how it plays up its color scheme well. The downside is a bit mixed as the front cover has a shot of Satellizer that’s just amateurish in a lot of ways, it doesn’t look good at all, while the reverse side gives us a mildly better Rana shot where it doesn’t look at off model. Looking at the artwork of Satellizer from there to the Blu-ray case that holds the discs and you can see the difference in color, detail and overall design. They’re far more appealing and look less cartoonish. The keepcase artwork mixes her against other opponents from the show, setting it against a lightly cloudy background with part of the school showing, and just feels more dynamic and definitely far more on model. The back covers are the same with the difference of color as the BD case has a blue flavoring and the DVD case has a red one. It breaks down the episodes by number and title along with a clean listing of the extras to be had. Each case has artwork on the reverse side that pairs Satellizer up with a different girl in various states of undress and blushing on her part. I like the set overall, but that box artwork for Satellizer is just bad and it’s a big part of what people see.

Menu:
The menu design for the show is pretty nicely in theme in a simplistic way but one that works quite well. The menus are all clips of big action scenes from the series with a mixture of darker and lighter pieces with some ominous instrumental music playing along. It shows off the cast, fanservice and action well. It also has a simple navigation strip along the bottom thta’s done as the Freezing design from within the show that fits well and is rather minimalistic in an appropriate way. Navigation is a breeze and the layout is generally easy to move around in, though it can be a touch awkward in the extras submenu. Everything loads quickly and the show defaults to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The extras are all on the second disc outside of the commentary that the first disc gets for an episode. We get the standards here with the US trailer, the promotional videos and the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences along with some commercials from the Japanese release. The really good extra here that we get are the six bonus OVA extras from the Japanese release which have a combined runtime of about eighteen minutes – and a play all feature which is quite nice. These are all comedy oriented and are heavy on the fanservice as well, getting away with the things that couldn’t put on the air. It’s obviously not instrumental to the show but it just lets everyone have a lot of fun and overt sexuality that will make you grin.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Dall-Young Lim and Kwang-Hyn Kim that began in Comic Valkyrie back in 2007 and is still ongoing, Freezing is a twelve episode series from studio A.C.G.T. that aired in the beginning of 2011. The show was one that got a simulcast run from FUNimation that I took in and felt like it was hugely uneven at times and wrongly focused for a good chunk of it. While I had a lot of interest in it from an animation standpoint, it was also a show that seemed like it was hampered because of the censored simulcast where it had a darker overall filter applied to it in addition to how it covered up the nudity. So I was somewhat apprehensive about digging into the show again because it had left a peculiar taste in my mouth and wasn’t one that I was terribly eager to revisit.

The series takes us to the late 21st century where the world has undergone some deep difficulties. The most problematic is that the planet has had several incursions from extradimensional creatures known as Nova. These heavily Evangelion TV angel inspired creatures have come singly over the years where they end up causing all sorts of problems briefly before either leaving or being dealt with. The early encounters are what has helped in the present as technology from the Nova have been incorporated into stigmata’s that can be bonded with people, which in turn gives them varied and incredible fighting powers. They’re applied to young men and women who work together, the women as Pandora’s and men as Limiters to help their senses and boost them, which gives them the ability to push back against the creatures.

That sets the basic backdrop as we’re introduced to the Genetics academy where it serves as a multi-year training school for utilizing powers as well as general education. There’s a huge amount of competition among the women as they go through their years, with the third years as seniors being the most powerful and part of a large clique. The fourth years aren’t seen but it’s amusing in that we do hear about them as they’re sent off to train with the military itself. Where the series focuses is on a second year named Satellizer de Bridget, known as the Untouchable Queen because she’s hugely powerful and absolutely hates to be touched by anyone, male or female. And she’s also separated by the fact that she doesn’t have a Limiter, which holds her back some even though she is really quite powerful and highly ranked.

What throws her path in the school into disarray is the arrival of a transfer student, a first year young man named Kazuya Aoi. His sister was one that was a highly regarded and powerful Pandora member herself some years ago who had a significantly higher number of stigmata to her. Kazuya finds Satellizer to be an embodiment of his sister and takes to her quickly, as much as she resists him for a lot of reasons, but there’s something about him that keeps them coming back together. Unlike other Limiters, he can use his powers of freezing, causing an area to be put in stasis where the combat takes place. Unfortunately, he ends up causing this to happen and boosting her own power at times making things pretty complicated and even causing her to lose her first match, which makes for an awkward relationship at best for awhile. But because of his earnestness, you know things will slowly shift. Th fun is in watching how that comes across.

Freezing is a series that was a real struggle at times to get through during its simulcast run since it had an interesting overall background storyline going with the Nova, which it touched upon in a few places and then went full out in the final three episodes. What the majority of it becomes is something that seems like a quasi-high school series where Satellizer is continually attacked by others because of her position and how she rubs people wrong. Made more complicated by Kazuya’s introduction to things of course. The whole thing does have a problem in that you have this group of powerful people that are being groomed to deal with an overpowering alien presence yet they spend the bulk of the series beating the crap out of each other to the point of nearly killing each other.

As much as that bugged me the first time, it’s eased this time around in this form as you can see the way it’s pushing events forward a bit more and bonding Satellizer and Kazuya more. What also made the simulcast problematic was the censoring and overall darkening of the materials. The censoring is removed here and it’s amusing to see the amount of nudity here, which is generally made up of lots of nipple shots. But they all rather amusingly look the same since the women are all big chested for the most part and it’s like they did a cut and paste. The shredding of clothes is regular and a rather defining part of the series in a way as well. And for better or worse, I do think it works here and adds a bit of fanservice that doesn’t feel so off when it comes to the overall darker aspects of the show. Both in the fighting and the past that comes into play with Satellizer.

It takes a bit to come into play, but digging into Satellizer’s past with why she has such an issue with touching is actually pretty nicely done. It’s a terrible situation from her past, but it explains a lot about how she’s pushed herself this far and pushed people away from her so intently. With it being a strong reaction when someone touches her, the way things are decided different with Kazuya definitely creates a good moment that can be exploited between the two. But the fact that we learn that there’s something far deeper to it later on, a greater meaning, it works in her favor very well and was a story element that felt hackneyed at first but instead played well for the characters and their situation.

In Summary:
Freezing wasn’t at the top of my list of simulcasts that I wanted to tackle again, but I have to say that I really came away from this marathon viewing session of it with a very different opinion. I still see the uneven nature of it from that original viewing, but the marathon method smooths a lot of it out and you can see the bridges between them. There’s some issues with how it’s all about classmates fighting against the rules while almost never getting in trouble, but the action sequences are really engaging and well executed. It gives us a lot of fanservice but also provides for more brutality than one might expect at times, both in the flashbacks and the present day fights. When it goes big at the end, it does so appropriately as the Nova take center stage and really work over everyone. There’s more than enough setup and strong material here for it to stand on its own, but unlike my simulcast experience, I came away from this wishing there was another season.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 6 Commentary, Episode 11 Commentary, Japanese Promotional Videos, Japanese Original Commercials, Textless Songs

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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